From the mid 90’s to the mid 2000’s the All-Star Circuit of Champions always boasted a solid group of racers on their tour. The names changed through the years, but guys like Dale Blaney, Kelly Kinser, Chad Kemenah, Kenny Jacobs, Frankie Kerr, Kevin Huntley, Greg Wilson, Jason Johnson, Danny Smith and Lance Dewease all followed the tour at one time during that span.
After a few down years, in which at one point there were as few as 5 drivers following the full tour, the University of Northwestern Ohio (UNOH) All Stars have a driver roster they can boast about again.
Here’s a list of the drivers and teams that are committed to the tour.
Dale Blaney – Fowler, OH (#14K Kennedy Motorsports)
4 time and defending All Stars champion
All-time series wins leader at 99
4 Time (2009-2012) All Stars champion.
53 All-Star wins
2010 Knoxville Nationals Champion
5th in national points last year in his first season on the tour
He won his heat and finished 16th in the A-Main on night one of the 2013 World of Outlaws World Finals in Charlotte.
3rd in All-Stars national points last year
6 career All-Star victories
2013 Champion of the King of the 360’s Ronald Laney Memorial at East Bay
6th in national points last year in his first full season in a 410 sprint car
4 Time (2002-2005) All-Stars Champion
27 Career All-Star wins
26 Career All-Star wins
12th in World of Outlaws wins with 56
1 career All Star win (2008 Winternationals at Volusia)
2000 and 2008 Knoxville 360 Nationals Champion
2000 ASCS National 360 Sprint Car champion
Andrew Palker – West Salem, OH (#57 Palker Racing)
2012 and 2013 Wayne County Speedway points champion
Finished 2nd in an All Stars race at Mercer Raceway Park last year
The first two drivers on the list above have dominated the All-Stars since 2009 and have basically carried the series. Shaffer and Blaney will be tough to beat again this year as both were fast out of the gate with new teams during the Florida Speedweeks. Blaney suffered through some motor troubles that affected the team’s results. Shaffer picked up a second place finish in the season opener at Bubba Raceway Park.
Wayne Johnson had a tough time in Florida in the 410 sprint finishing in the top 15 just once in the 3 races that Mother Nature allowed the UNOH All Stars to run. He was able to end his time in Florida on a high note by winning the Ronald Laney Memorial King of the 360’s at East Bay. I expect him to contend for the title this year even after the slow start.
Danny Holtgraver picked up fifth and sixth place finishes in Florida and coming off a year where he was 3rd in points he should be right in the mix again this season.
The driver who may have the best chance to dethrone Shaffer and Blaney at the top is Chad Kemenah. A four-time champion of the series himself, Kemenah is back after following the World of Outlaws tour for the last eight seasons. He had some good results in Florida picking up a second place finish in night two at Bubba Raceway Park.
There is a strong possibility of a 10th driver following the tour with CH Motorsports and their 83 car. Christopher Bell was scheduled to be the driver of the car, but has parted ways with the team. There are several candidates to replace him and it will be interesting to see who lands that ride.
Other drivers who you could see at many All Stars events include David Gravel in the Phoenix Racing 59, whose plans aren’t official yet, and Australian driver James McFadden in the Gaerte 3G.
The schedule features 44 more races this season after Florida. The series will be split into three regions, the Ohio, Eastern and Midwest along with the National points title. The series will run in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan, Wisconsin, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Minnesota.
After their time in Florida the team’s will get the month of March off before the season picks up again at Attica Raceway Park on April 4thand 5th for the Spring Nationals.
They will then travel to Williams Grove and Port Royal for a weekend double header April 25th and 26th.
May features three races in western Pennsylvania, Lernerville on the 9th, Mercer the 10th, and the newly reopened Allegheny Motor Speedway May 18th. There will also be a two day show at Fremont the 24th and 25th.
June features the 2014 edition of the Ohio Sprint Speedweek from June 20-28. This is the crown jewel week for the series. The nine nights or racing in a row will be at eight different tracks across the Buckeye State.
July has the Thunder Through the Plains which is a five race stretch in nine day through the upper Midwest.
There will be two day shows on four straight weekends in August and September. The first one will be at Mercer Raceway Park on the 23rd-24thand the second being at Attica Raceway Park the 29th and 30th.
The Tuscarora 50 weekend follows that September 5th-6thand Fremont will host one the 12th-13th.
The series concludes with a race at Eldora on October 11th.
National Points Finish
1. Chad Kemenah
2. Dale Blaney
3. Tim Shaffer
4. Danny Holtgraver
5. Wayne Johnson
Look for Kemenah to come back to the tour and be very strong after running very respectable with the World of Outlaws the last eight years on a smaller budget than the big teams, Blaney and Shaffer will be there again as mainstays atop the standings. Holtgraver, Johnson and Haudenschild, Helms, Gustin, and Palker will all be in the hunt as well in what will be the most competitive season for the series in quite some time.
One thing that could shake the standings up is if Gravel runs the full tour. If he and his team commit to it they have as good a chance as any of the aforementioned drivers to win the title.
Another shake up could happen if the CH Motorsports team can have success with their new driver. The team is definitely capable of winning a title as they’ve done so 4 times.